My Ashwoods life – James Ward, Senior Design Engineer

What is your job title?

I am a Senior Design Engineer.

What does that involve?

Up until recently, I was working with the development team but in the last month, I have moved to production engineering. So – I do design work, which involves designing our electric motors, the components and how they go together. Being Senior means that I look after the junior guys, check their drawings and make sure they are not making any mistakes. Moving to production engineering means that I am now moving away from the design of the actual motors and I am focusing more on how we are going to build the motors in the factory.

What do you enjoy the most about it?

Design work and solving problems definitely. And obviously being able to interact with all my lovely colleagues too!

How long have you been working for Ashwoods?

Not long, less than a year.

What were you doing before you came here?

I have been a design engineer since I graduated in 1999. Before coming to work for Ashwoods I worked for a company called Rotron, designing rotary engines. I’ve also worked for Supacat designing military vehicles, and before that, I worked for JLR and Aston Martin.

I grew up in Somerset so I have always been in this area.

What do you do when you are not at work?

I fix my car, I ride my motorbike and I probably play too many computer games!

I’ve been married for a few years. My wife works for Westlands as a contracts officer. We met at work and we were together for 12-13 years before getting married.

If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

I went to the Maldives this year and it was wonderful so I would quite like to go back there. I enjoyed doing some diving – I did snorkelling and then scuba diving for the first time and I saw turtles and sharks on my first dive!

Tell us something we don’t know about you

I really like reading, science fiction stories mostly. I have got a bookshelf at home with quite a few books. My favourite is Iain M Banks, a Scottish writer who writes science fiction.

If you could create anything what would it be?

Free energy for everybody!

What is your biggest strength?

I would like to say attention to detail. I like to really drill down into the detail because the devil is in the detail. In the early stages of the design process, I think that the right thing to do is make something very quickly and perhaps not to focus on the details. But then, later on, when you make bigger quantities it’s very important for the design to be exactly right; because if there is one error then you are going to potentially make thousands of errors. Hopefully, attention to detail is what I can bring to my new role!

What is your biggest weakness?

Attention to detail. I tend to focus too hard on one thing sometimes.

What was your greatest achievement?

I restored a car and I actually finished it, it took me 8 years. I had to replace a lot of metal which took a long time especially because I was in a small garage without enough tools. My brother has now the car, so it’s nice to still be able to see it.

Another achievement was getting married. I took a long time to get the courage to ask the question!

What are you working on right now?

The company is moving to Harcombe; there is going to be a new production line there and we are going to build fantastic electric motors at a rate of knots! So I am designing a new range of motors that will be built in the new factory. There is a lot to be done – but very interesting work.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid, for years that is all I wanted to do until I was around 14 and I thought I maybe would become an engineer. I always knew what kind of person I was and what I was going to be good at.

How would your friends and family describe you?

Funny and caring.

Why Exeter?

I chose the job, I knew Exeter is a lovely place. I also have friends that live here. It’s a lovely part of the world.

Where did you go to university?


What’s your favourite subject at school?

Art, I enjoyed it a lot. The subject I was better at was technology though.

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